On the October 20 broadcast of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh advanced the false claim from an Investor's Business Daily editorial that New York Times environmental writer Andrew Revkin "proposed" instituting carbon credits for having fewer children, and then asked why, if Revkin "really thinks that humanity is destroying the planet," he doesn't "just go kill [him]self and help the planet by dying." In fact, in both the blog post and panel discussion to which the IBD editorial referred, Revkin specifically stated that he was engaging in a "thought experiment, not a proposal."
IBD cropped Revkin's comments to falsely suggest he "proposed" carbon credits for having fewer children
IBD editorial asserted Revkin "proposed" carbon credits for having fewer children. From the October 19 IBD editorial:
New York Times environmental writer Andrew Revkin participated in an Oct. 14 panel discussion on climate change with other media pundits titled "Covering Climate: What's Population Got To Do With It?" People who need people they are not.
Participating via Web cam, Revkin volunteered that in allocating carbon credits as part of any cap-and-trade scheme, "if you can measurably somehow divert fertility rate, say toward accelerating decline in a place with a high fertility rate, shouldn't there be a carbon value to that?"
He went on to say that "probably the single most concrete and substantive thing an American, young American, could do to lower our carbon footprint is not turning off the light or driving a Prius, it's having fewer kids, having fewer children."
"More children equal more carbon dioxide emissions," Rivkin [sic] has blogged, wondering "whether this means we'll soon see a market in baby-avoidance carbon credits similar to efforts to sell CO2 credits for avoiding deforestation." Save the trees, not the children.
Rivkin's [sic] views are unfortunately shared by people with power and influence. Jonathon Porritt, chairman of Britain's Sustainable Development Commission, believes that "having more than two children is irresponsible" and that people should "connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint."
Earlier this year, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi defended federal contraceptive initiatives as an effort to "reduce costs to the states and to the federal government." For Pelosi, mother of five, the fewer the merrier.
Would this proposed carbon-credit carrot turn someday into a large stick? Would child exemptions disappear after the first child or worse?
Revkin made clear he was simply engaging in a "thought experiment, not a proposal." In the September 15 Times blog post to which IBD referred, Revkin specifically stated that he was conducting a "thought experiment": "I recently raised the question of whether this means we'll soon see a market in baby-avoidance carbon credits similar to efforts to sell CO2 credits for avoiding deforestation. This is purely a thought experiment, not a proposal." Similarly, in the October 14 panel discussion, Revkin stated of such carbon credits: "And obviously it's just a thought experiment, but it raises some interesting questions about all this." Further, IBD stated: "Revkin volunteered that in allocating carbon credits as part of any cap-and-trade scheme, 'if you can measurably somehow divert fertility rate, say toward accelerating decline in a place with a high fertility rate, shouldn't there be a carbon value to that?' " In fact, the video makes clear that Revkin was actually repeating what "some of the people have recently proposed," not stating his own policy preference.
Revkin to CNS: "I wasn't endorsing any of this." On October 19, the conservative CNSNews.com reported that in a statement, Revkin denied "endorsing" such credits:
"I wasn't endorsing any of this, simply laying out the math and noting the reality that if one were serious about the population-climate intersection, it'd be hard to avoid asking hard questions about USA population growth," wrote Revkin.
"By raising the notion of carbon credits for, say, single-child American families," he continued, "I was aiming to provoke some thinking about where the brunt of emissions are still coming from on a per-capita basis."
Limbaugh used IBD editorial to attack Revkin
Limbaugh reads from the IBD editorial, asks why Revkin doesn't "just go kill" himself. After reading the IBD editorial, Limbaugh stated: "This guy from The New York Times, if he really thinks that humanity is destroying the planet, humanity is destroying the climate, that human beings in their natural existence are going to cause the extinction of life on Earth -- Andrew Revkin. Mr. Revkin, why don't you just go kill yourself and help the planet by dying?"